Chung says AFC broke election rules ahead of FIFA vote

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-joon has accused the Asian Football Confederation of breaking FIFA election and ethics rules by lobbying for rival candidate Michel Platini in the presidential contest.

The AFC sent letters to officials of member federations urging them to vote for the UEFA president on Feb. 26, Chung said in a news conference on Thursday in Seoul.

”It is an obvious case of election fraud infringing on the basic rights of other presidential candidates,” said Chung, who passed copies of the letters to the chairmen of FIFA’s electoral committee and ethics committee.

Responding to the claim, the AFC said election contenders were required by FIFA rules to seek nominations worldwide, and some Asian voters asked how to show support.

Platini’s campaign was already supported by AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, in July even before any Asian official declared an intention to run.

”A growing majority of AFC member associations have also expressed their support for Mr. Platini’s candidacy, based on his credentials to lead world football,” the AFC said in a statement.

Chung launched his bid in Platini’s native France two weeks ago.

The letter revealed by Chung was titled ”Proposal and support of the candidature of Mr. MP for the office of FIFA President.”

It ended with a sentence that read: ”Finally, just for good order, we wish to confirm that the (INSERT NAME ASSOCIATION) is supporting only Mr. MP and, accordingly, we did not sign any other declaration of support for another candidate for the office of the FIFA President.”

The letters were addressed to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Chung argued that the initials ”MP” referred to Platini, and that the letter was designed as a form for federations to fill out to express their support for Platini. He said the letter was sent to the offices of all AFC member states except for South Korea and Jordan, the home countries of himself and potential candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein.

The upcoming election will replace current chief Sepp Blatter, who announced his departure amid mounting pressure to reform after widespread allegations of corruption within FIFA ranks.

Chung, the billionaire scion of the Hyundai business group, was a FIFA vice president for 17 years, and was once considered a candidate to succeed Blatter before losing his seat in 2011, to Prince Ali.

He was a key figure in helping South Korea land the right to co-host the 2002 World Cup with Japan, and has been a longtime critic of Blatter, whom he described in a memoir published in 2011 as a dictatorial ”little brat.”